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Whether a startup or an established brand, all businesses have one common chip to play: social media. For entrepreneurs especially, the rise of social networks for digital marketing has offered a new, free arena to use for brand awareness and visibility. The cost of a traditional office space, with all the bills it brings, is spared through the free platforms that allow niche targeting straight to a potential customer’s phone, complete with product feedback.
While veteran startups may manage to live on a well-maintained Facebook page, Instagram has proven to be a better option for new names looking to breakthrough. Not only is it the most popular visual platform of the region, it is also better integrated with hashtag discovery, both of which work hand in hand to help spike user interest. Instagram has already contributed to the launch of several regional and local talents like designer Alanoud Al Badr, better known as Fozaza in fashion circles, Butter Dessert Salon, a Dubai-based bakery who now only works on prebooked orders, and Ahlam Al Najdi, who made international headlines in 2013 for being the first KSA female to reach one million followers with her lifelike clay sculptures of desserts. She has since written two books about her craft. All three started their businesses online with no physical office and a strong reliance on Insta- basically word-of-mouth to grow brand awareness.
Despite drawing from different fields, the three Instagram accounts have a common range of best practices that an aspiring entrepreneur can integrate to grow their own brand visibility. Three points of relevance when considering Instagram for your brand are discoverability, share factor, and the product itself.
- Quality Hashtagging As a fresh account for a brand, discoverability comes through using the correct hashtags for the content to be found by the intended audience. There is a balance to maintain between a mix of general hashtags and popular ones that would apply, without falling into hashtag frenzy. It will get tempting to tag every other word, but this will only dilute the ability of drawing in users with the same interests.
- Unifying Content Share factor feeds off a brand’s identity and revolves around having content people would want to show their friends. Posts need to have enough character to unify the community around them, and encourage followers to share them to their personal accounts as a reflection of who they are. In this sense, Instagram becomes the digital water cooler conversation where brand content needs to be catchy enough to be talked about.
- Prioritize Quality Last but not least, the product itself needs to be worthwhile for the social marketing efforts to translate into tangible results for the company. A common misconception is that a strong social presence can forgive quality shortcomings. Loyal followers will continue to interact with a brand if they are truly able to relate to its core identity, and they will continue sharing its content, but they will not as easily be turned into consumers from there. If the service being marketed does not live up to expectations, the social strategy on Instagram becomes limited to the platform instead of being a launch pad to create business interactions.